Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Healthcare Reform Conference in LA

After an uninspiring first day at the Corporate Wellness Conference I jumped ship and attended the Healthcare Reform Conference instead. What a revelation! Professional, knowledgeable and eloquent speakers talked about the subject that appears to fill every employer in the US with dread.

I was stunned at the depth of feeling and concern that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will create a huge economic burden on employers. I won’t go into detail on the Act here – not least because it runs to 2000 pages and there appears to be very few people who truly understand it. Michael Bertaut of Blue Cross Shield of Louisiana ran an excellent workshop at the conference. He has spent a year researching this subject and believes that there are still many aspects of this document that need clarification.

In the UK the impression (and I accept that this is a vast generalisation) is that President Obama has created a healthcare reform that will provide healthcare cover to an additional 32 million people. What we didn’t understand is that a large proportion of this cost is to be borne by employers. The majority of speakers and delegates voiced the opinion that this was a poorly thought out piece of legislation that will have consequences far beyond the original brief. ‘This is a mess’, ‘We have to undo it before it inflicts permanent economic damage’ and ‘This could bankrupt America were all comments that I recorded verbatim in my notes. Strong stuff.

I was interested to note that there were many delegates from major corporations, attending the conference to try to understand the implications for their organisations leading up to full implementation of the Act in 2014. As one said to me – ‘how can we accurately complete our financial modelling for the next 5 years if we can’t be clear on the costs related to these reforms?’

This Act and the repercussions for business absolutely enthrals me and I shall no doubt return to it many times over the coming months. I shall also attempt to summarise the NHS reforms in the UK and the challenges facing UK Health Insurers.

On a personal note - I had a great time in LA and met some fascinating people. I realised that I already know a lot about Corporate Wellness but that I have a great deal to learn about PPACA. And I note that I am in very good company on both counts!


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